Souls for Sale | Rupert Hughes | Published 1900 onward | Audiobook full unabridged | English | 4/8

chapter 23 of souls for sale this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter 23 when the moving-picture caravan left Palm Springs mem lost the courage that had led her to refuse to go with it Tom Hobie rather coldly advised her to take up the moving pictures as a career the director praised her and promised not to forget her Leiva lemare begged her to come to Los Angeles where it would be cool and profitable and warned her not to risk her life in the desert also she collected four men the day's wages of seven dollars and a half for her work as an extra woman this thrilled the girl with her astonishing earning powers at that rate she could earn as much in a week as her father earned in a month even she but men would as soon have followed a pack of gypsies or a circus troupe out of Calver Lee it was only when the movie people were gone that she realized how much they had filled the scene how empty and little the stage was now that the picture crowd abandoned it she found a place is made in the home of a storekeeper at such wages as he could afford she began the sordid routine of her tasks but contrasting them with the glamour of playing tragic roles she felt herself entombed then the summer heat began and grew so fierce that her employers wife and children went inside to the seashore this left her in a position of embarrassment and terror she was an embarrassment and terror to her employer too for she had a beauty that she unwittingly flung over him like a net her beauty stung him in his thoughts it filled his honest soul with poisonous desire he tried to summon courage to send her away but the sorrow in her eyes made it impossible to dismiss her finally being as wise as he was good he determined to flee from the temptation to tempt and took shelter with his wife ma'am had not watched him well enough note her influence upon him she went about in a daze with heavier and heavier heart and tread she spent much thought upon the letter home that she had not yet written that she must write if ever she were to go home again the whole purpose of this long long journey into loneliness was to be able to write that letter and it had not yet gone every time she made the beginning her hands flinched from the lying pen but when her employer left the village for a few days with his family at the coast one night in a frantic fit of histrionic enthusiasm she dashed off her fable sealed it in an envelope and dropped it after dark in the mailbox darling mama and papa how can I write the terrible news I can hardly bear to think of it let alone write about it but my darling husband passed away in the desert I cannot write you the particulars now for I am too agitated and grief-stricken and I do not want to Harrow you with details I know you're poor hearts will ache for me but I beg you not to feel it too deeply because I'm trying to be brave and I remember what you taught me that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away poor John did not find the last mine he was looking for and he did not find the water hole he expected for after I had waited for him a long time in our camp by a little spring another prospector brought me word that he had found him and buried him the poor boy had torn all his clothes off in the thirst madness and had been dead for three days when found I cannot write you more now I am in no need of money and I will come home when I get a little stronger the climate is doing my health wonderful good even if it has broken my heart but don't you worry I'll be all right and I'll send you a long letter as soon as I settle down somewhere all the love in the world from your loving mem after she had slipped the letter irrevocably into the mailbox she realized that the postmark of Palms Springs would be stamped on the envelope her place of concealment would be disclosed still it would not matter she was a widow now in the minds of her people and she could go back to them and face the future and calm but she would have to go on playing a part all her life and playing it once more in the monotonous theater own home she had a fierce desire for her mother's help in the approaching ordeal but how could she endure it to begin lying again in her dear old father's trusting face her soul wanted to run and climb Ludden as her feet were she was a bit flighty in her head at times nowadays a longing for cool waters and I see waves assailed her the Los Angeles paper which came to the house every day spoke of Santa Monica as the place where the mountains meet the sea that phrase had an elusive influence she imagined the vast herd of mountains crowding down to meet the radiant breakers that the Pacific flung upon their shining horns as they bent to dip their muzzles into the surf the ocean was so near to Palm Springs that her employer spoke of having breakfasted once on the beach and reached home long before dinnertime and that was by the winding motor roads to the northwest the fantastic notion came to her that she might climb the San Jacinto Sierra and cross it to the ocean as the Eagles did or at least catch a glimpse of blue waves the mountains had a beckoning look always and on this afternoon when a clouded sky gave a little shelter from the Sun she set out to follow her vagary as far as her strength would take her she crossed a strip of sand as soft as deep piled velvet and came to a path that slanted up a rounded cliff lifting a granite wall right aloft from the on rippled surface of the desert the exertion of climbing was more than men had bargained for she was weaker and weightier than she had thought the steeps that look so inviting from a distance were ragged and forbidding the burnt almond mountains were hot and sharp-edged gridirons to her feet when she was high enough to look down on the leafy which of the little village she grew dizzy and afraid the loneliness up there was grizzly something said go back she fought the everlasting tendency to retreat from everything she undertook but gave up and decided to return and now as she stared at the Swift descent before her she grew more afraid of climbing down than of climbing up she hesitated then mounted a few steps with pain and struggle she had not the strength to go on nor the courage to go back the Sun came blazing forth and seemed to spill upon her a yellow hot mass of metal that slashed her about the head and rolled over her shoulders and blistering ingots the fiends of heights whirled round her she tried to call for help but whence a stolen rolled under her foot and shook her from her balance she wavered clutched it nothing world struck bounded from the hard rock fell and fell and then a smashing blow blackness silence end of chapter 23 recording by Deana Beauvais chapter 24 of souls for sale this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit soles for sale by rupert hues chapter twenty four a young indian girl chasing her stray pony about the sand had noted the figure climbing the side of the cliff and had studied it wondering at its erratic behavior she had seen mem stumble then fall had heard the thump of the body on the cushioning sand had run to the nearest house and told what she had seen a man there came out and followed the indian girl when she pointed to the height where mem had stood when she slipped he said that's all of sixty feet she's dead for sure but she was not though she was lifeless enough when they reached her and more than one bone was broken a woman had tried to kill herself a few weeks before by jumping from a far higher cliff and landing on sand as soft had wakened to her keen disappointment in this world instead of the other with a few more bruises and anguishes than before the Indian girl dispelled the natural suspicion that mam had attempted suicide her first outcry when she was brought back to consciousness was a shriek of Terror that resumed her thoughts where they had left off she was recognized and taken home the village doctor was fetched and he did all that his skill could do to hasten the repairs that nature began upon at once though mam had never dared to visit the doctor he knew of her and knew of her as a widow the wedding ring on her finger for stalled even a thought of the truth when she was strong enough to be talked to he prepared her for bad news am I to be crippled for life she cried no he sighed you will bear no marks of your accident but you will not but your other hopes and expectations will not be realized she was dazed and he was timid and he had some difficulty in making her understand his bad news that she would not be a mother she bore this blow with a fortitude that surprised him before she was able to be up and about the family came back and ministered to her with a kindness that punished her one morning she was terrified to receive a letter from home it was addressed to mrs. John Woodville and it was written by her mother with a long PostScript from her father her mother's letter was a laboured effort to pour out sympathy for her daughter in the loss of a husband who she knew had never lived and could not die her expressions of horror at his demise were written for the sake of her husband but she was never meant for a dramatic author and mem could feel the artificiality of her language but her father was completely deceived and mourned sincerely his post gripped was all pity and loving sorrow he told of his prayers for her strength to bear her cross and pleaded with her to be brave he said that he had prayed for her in church and the Congress and sent her loving messages mem could see him on his knees imploring heaven pacing his room with the tread she had heard so much in her childhood and stretching his clasped hands across the pulpit Bible as he solicited mercy of heaven remorse came upon her again with the suffocating fury of the sandstorm she felt that she could never face her father or her village again now that her accident had an altar excuse for being here her conscience forbade her to go home again now she felt an exile indeed and an unutterable loneliness without her lover her child her own people or even the familiar scenes that might have given her in articulate consolation the old trees about the old house would have waved their arms above her and murmured mysterious brooding x' over the mystery of despair the very trees here were foreigners on an impulse she wrote a long letter to her mother enclosed it in an unsealed envelope and enclosed that in a sealed envelope addressed to doctor breath Rick after the letter was mailed she wished she had never sent it it can only carry dismay into her lonely mother's soul but it was as impossible to recall as a scream shot into the air she imagined all consequences but the one that came about the last of her money went to pay the doctors bill and she was a sick popper she resumed her menial work gradually as her strength returned but her distaste for it grew to loathing the Redax her employers were kind to her but they were master and mistress and their own lives were hard she was weak and woe begun at the very bottom of the cliff of life she had never climbed very far but she had fallen far enough to give both soul and body an almost fatal shock she was ashamed of her past and her future was as dismal as the desert and is full of cactus she was a Drudge in a poor family in a scorched settlement abandoned by all that could get away the only inferiors she could see were a young widow named dak and her five-year-old boy Terry mrs. dak took in washing during the winter she was overworked during the summer she was undernourished she did the heaviest laundry for the Redax and when she called for it she usually brought her boy along for lack of someone to leave him with the child had the infantile genius for improving the world by imagination and made a brilliant adventure of the errand he owned a rickety express wagon left behind by some visitor child and it gave Terry all the uplift of a fiery chariot his mother would set the bundle of wash in the wagonette and immediately it became a magnificent truck an automobile or an airship and the boy a team of horses a motor or a winged aviator as his whim pleased his mother cut a little cheer from Terry's inexhaustible rapture and mem seeing them move along the road to their Shack felt such pity for them that she gained a little dignity from the emotion since pity is a downward looking mood her sympathy was quickened perhaps by the frustration of her own motherhood nature had begun to prepare her spirit as well as her flesh from eternal offices and somewhere in Oblivion was a half completed little child doomed to perish before it was born that tiny orphan wailed in the porches of mems heart complaining that it's destiny begun in romantic shame was ended in unromantic catastrophe famished of love mem fed upon the widows boy it hurt mem to see how sorry a future Terry DAC could expect the children of the Indians were less unlucky because like the children of Negros they entered a world that made them no promises that every American white child has a chance at wealth and the presidency of the United States as his in a Lea below right yet Terry DAC began with no inheritance but handicaps he would have no opportunity in Palm Springs for anything but the humblest future he would grow up to a few scraps of public school education his father was already dead and his mother only half alive she had been a pretty thing once and she loved to tell mem of her life on a ranch near whitewater as a little girl she had owned her own horse and ridden it as a young Sage hen she had been the belle of ranch picnics and parties she had married a glorious young cattleman whose father went broke because his herd of cattle was smothered in a sandstorm the son had soon after been torn to pieces by the teeth of a vicious horse he had tried to break to the saddle then all the joy and velocity had gone out of mrs. decks life and she had become the bent slave of a washboard her arms forever elbow deep in suds the boy Terry was of the Arial breed his fancy girdled the earth in 40 minutes the world was a stage to him an old boot as effective as Cinderella's glass slipper the clothesline was a private telephone wire he mimicked birds and animals and often covered his mother with terror and amuse chagrin by imitating her clients with uncanny skill he had an eye for mannerisms of walk or posture his vision owned a photographic detail his ear a photographic skill for record and repetition ignorant and young as he was he could merely sketch the emphatic features of the people he cartooned but in the outline there was always a lightness that made his mother or mem cry out the name of the subject at once Terry would usually preface his performance with a looki mama this is the way ol mrs. Rennick walks this is the way you do mama this is what the old Indian squaw does when she weaves baskets with her hands and uses her feet to work the rope that scares the birds from the fig trees this is the way mama you wash clothes and ring him and hang him up to dry sometimes his mimicry was terrifying he would repeat things he had overheard in the street from careless man he would imitate some devil tree he had learned from an Indian or Mexican or American boy or girl or from the little devil that curls and fattens in every child's own heart as the worm in the Apple his mother and mem would look at each other in the dismay that comes to grown-ups when they seed the ignorance of babyhood vanishing like down from a peach they were afraid of what life in their wicked little world would do to their little Idol Terry would weep with vexation at an inattentive audience or at his inability to express what bubbled inside his little kettle of a chest he would weep when angered but at no other time pain grief disappointment terror loneliness would bring no tears no sobs once the child caught cold in all that heat and mam sat by his bedside through several smothering nights while the back broken mother slept mem all alone in her vigil found that imagination was good company she constructed little plays she pretended that Terry was her own baby and like him she enriched asserted existence with the rich tapestries of pretense she had been forced to be a play actress for so long that the ordeal had become a pleasant habit a necessity she exercised her acquired skills and making up little dramas too while away the tedium of the long nights and to keep the wakeful child's mind from his cough among all the rich nights of human experience from the perfect night that Socrates praised the more than royally luxurious nights of dreamless sleep to the glittering revelries of the tree monkey and banquet no nights are more precious than those somber hours a mother spends at the bedside of a sick child it was during this long heartache that memory sieved the second letter that found her in Palm Springs this was from leavel America saying that she had just seen in an old paper a paragraph describing mrs. Woodville's fall from the mountain and her miraculous escape from death leave expressed the utmost sympathy and prayed that her beauty had not been marred she added but if it has you can still find something to do in the movies I've given up trying to be an actress and taken a position in the laboratory projection room correcting the film's it's cool and dark and interesting and far better than that miserable oven I think I can get you a place if you'll come up los angeles is the only town in the world that's alive these days and there's no excuse for a woman of your edge and charm wasting her sweetness on the desert air do come I've sent my three children out to their uncle's ranch you could live here with me and my friends the thought of working in the dark and the cool was a hint of paradise – ma'am but she would not leave tarry dak while he was ill early one evening she went to the drugstore to fill a prescription and found a stranger there sprawled across a showcase talking his voice startled her though it was so slow and lazy that the druggist found it almost a soporific I've been out on the old Pikachu mountain prospectin I went over at once with an old partner of mine name of well I always called him wid head he went batty on me count of a waterhole not having no water into it mem stood for a moment petrified all but her heart which was scurrying like an alarm bell and a steeple this was the man bobland she had talked to in Yuma she had told him that her husband was alive and that she was going into the desert with him he would recognize her the moment he saw her he would ask about the husband he had so frankly an vide all her duplicity would be revealed she would probably be stoned out of the village end of chapter 24 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 25 of Sol's for sale this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit Sol's for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter 25 her chief dismay was her inability to get rid of the lie she had begun she found it always ahead of her and about her with new demands always behind her with new reminders she stole out of the drugstore with the prescription unfilled and hastening down the street asked a young Indian girl came along to finish her errand for her she waited in the shelter of a fat palm tree ready to take flight if the Yuma man should come out and follow her but he was evidently still telling the weary druggist his unsolicited experiences for after a time the Indian girl returned bringing the medicine and explaining that her delay was due to the much palaver of a man who would not stop talking on the way back to the deck cottage mm thought fast she had hidden herself in a tiny hamlet the nearest thing to solitude she had hidden herself in vain the only other hope was to sink concealment in a crowd as Tom Hobie had suggested and now coercion was added to the allurement of Los Angeles she told mrs. daq and mrs. Redick that she had received a call to go to Los Angeles at once mrs. Redick protested and pleaded with all the hospitality that is bestowed on a good servant we're servants of any sort are hard to get in keep mrs. DAC could only regret her departure and her meek desolation of mean almost overcame MEMS resolution the boy teri was out of danger but his arms around MEMS neck were with ease she could hardly break the soft hands the dewy cheeks the lonely eyes of the child were feathers cruelly tyrannous the next morning mem lugged her old suitcase to the starting point of the Auto stage it carried her and a few other passengers across a Badlands pallid as a convicts cheek and with the same unshaven look at white water she caught a train that sped her gradually into the veils of plenty through leagues of citrus groves in flower and in fruit at once seeing orange blossoms bloom in leagues she blushed to think that she had never worn them she marveled at the alleys of green polka dotted with golden oranges with lemons and grapefruit hanging like gifts in tinsel Christmas trees long reaches of walnut Grove's went by in wheel spokes the walnuts made the neatest and shapely astir for churns there were olives almonds roses blowing in red miles along the country roads she was coming up into Eden and eventually she reached the new Babel which her father had denounced as the last capital of paganism no city could be so wicked as her father and she had thought Los Angeles and be anything else and Los Angeles was everything else scanty as her resources were men had to pay a taxicab to take her to leave his home it was the first taxicab she had ever ridden in and she was hysterical with fear as it shot and spun through streets so thick with traffic and so wild but this city's record of accidents had achieved supremacy in the world the driver mauled his gear so recklessly that the cap was incessantly snarling and spitting a very beast of prey yet ma'am was almost more afraid of the taxi meter as she watched it adding Dimes to her fare at a spendthrift rate she was likely to be destroyed by bankruptcy if not by collision the street slid through a long long tunnel and then swooped up and away to Sunset Boulevard she loved the name then gradually into a domain of tiny houses with large Gardens each of a luxurious that struck ma'am is almost fantastic all of these people must be grand Vizier's the way they surrounded themselves with tropical splendors the Spanish names of many of the streets made literature to her eye and she was dazed by the number of them she thought that los angeles must have extended its limits almost to San Francisco San Franciscans often made the same accusation suddenly the car swerved to the right and scooted up a little Avenue of low houses not white only but pink or mold or yellow with roofs of very colored tile and awnings of gaudy stripe in a city so widespread and made up of so many small houses so far apart that when the man was at his work and the wife in the kitchen or shopping there was nobody visible she had the impression of Los Angeles that Arthur Sommers Roche expressed a million white houses and not a soul going in or coming out of one of them the cab jolted to a stop before a tiny Palace of four or five rooms mm got down paid the pirate her ransom and tottered her suitcase up to the quaint little door this was leiva's home she had a palm tree a pepper tree a few truculent cactuses grass and a fountain along the walk stood a row of palms their trunks studded or lapped in many facets where leaf stalks had been cut off a gorgeous vine of bougainvillea was flung up over the cornice with the effect of a vast carnival shawl Liva was not at home a servant who opened the door said that she would not get back from the studio before 6:00 or half-past ma'am asked permission to wait knowing nowhere else to turn she studied the bright rooms as if there were chambers in fairyland she could hardly comprehend the patio and the walls of concrete she did not realize that she could almost have poked her thumb through them the garden built into the house the frail and many tinted furniture the photographs of famous paintings that she had never heard of the whole spirit of the place was foreign to men it looked genie built the servant was glad to relieve her loneliness with chatter she explained that miss lemare lived there with three other ladies all of them in the movies and none of them getting their pictures took they lived here with no more thought of chaperone äj– than a crowd of bachelors mems greatest shock was the abrupt arrival in a world where the enjoyment of life was made its chief business she had been brought up to believe in Duty first and self-denial abstention modesty damira tea simplicity meekness prayer remorse here people worship the Sun flowers dancing speed hilarity laughter and love they worked hard but at the manufacture of pretty things of stories pictures paintings music to her there was an inconceivable recklessness of consequence they thought no more of respectable appearance than South Sea Islanders yet they seemed to be as happy as they tried to be they had their disappointments jealousies scam those gossips griefs and shames but so had the gray village people she had left these utopians had no winter in their climate or in their souls only a little rainy season a bit of chill when liebe and her friends came in at dinnertime they came like young businessmen home from offices tired of shot yet full of its talk eager for amusement knowing no law except their own self-respect for health or reputation or efficiency the first one in set a Victrola to playing a jazz tune before she noticed men the second one in joined the first in a dance they quarreled over a new step with laughing violence men was aghast at their contempt for conventions they despised the Puritans who abhorred them they snapped their fingers at appearances and regarded caution not as an evidence of decency but as a proof of hypocrisy they had in their time known all of MEMS compunctions but had abandoned them one by one as a soldier throws off all baggage that hampers the freedom and range of his march as a swimmer in strong currents casts away everything that weighs including clothes she would learn that many of those who love to break the rules of outward propriety were solid as white marble in their standards she had already learned at home that many of the most spotless exteriors are only whited Sepulcher 'z she would conform herself with trepidation at first and with much backsliding into respectability as she understood it but she would soon embrace the new paganism with desperation and finally with gaiety adapting herself like a Beachcomber to the customs of a tribe of self-supporting women who compromised himself so freely that the critic gave them up is hopeless one does not fret much over the unconventionality z' of gypsies at first she supposed that all Los Angeles was Hollywood but she would learn that to a large portion of the city's population the word Hollywood was a synonym for riotous outlawry a plague spot a kind of spendthrift slums and in Hollywood itself she would find a large old fashioned village element dazed by its gypsies furthermore the city which her father had downed with such wholesale horror was 9/10 composed of Midwesterners like himself people who had brought their churches and church leanness with them there were hundreds of thousands of Iowans Missourians Kansans there and they held picnics constantly enormous reunions which differed from the camp meetings and barbecues of the Midwest only in the fact that the groves were not of maple and oak and hickory but of eucalyptus and palm and pepper weather mem had come to her ruination or her Redemption she had come to a new world before she learned how freely with what masculine franchise these women conducted their lives before she could recoil from such perilous associations she was entrapped in their cordiality their vivacity their lavish kindness Liva the third one home welcome mem as if she were a returned prodigal sister instead of a passing acquaintance met in the desert she would listen to nothing but the unpacking of the suitcase and the acceptance of a little bed covered with a gaudy Navajo blanket there were flowers at mems plate in a lavish heat and a big basket of fruit was set in her room Californians are prompt and frequent with gifts of flowers the other women came in variously one walked one drove her own car up into a garage just a little bigger than the car one was set down by a big studio touring car that delivered its passengers of knights and gathered them up again of morning's for Los Angeles is a city of Maleficent distances every place is a Sabbath day's journey from every place else and there is no Sabbath at least no legal Sabbath yet the people seemed to be extraordinarily good and kindly they seemed to get the Sun into their lives their hearts felt as big and golden and juicy as their own oranges even the lemons had a sweeter acridity than at home at home California fruit had been a byword for bigness high color and insipidity of taste something a little better than dead sea fruit the smaller plainer native apples pears and peaches have possessed a better flavor but California fruit had reached calve early after a long dark journey and it was eaten in a foreign air out here however where the oranges could be lifted warm from the tree the figs sliced fresh for breakfast the peaches stripped of their downy silk while their wine was new there was no lapse from the joyous promise of their advertisement if the sunlight was of a gold refined and somehow enriched the shadow was also of a deeper cool just inside its edge the Sun was walled out the first builders had not known this they had said above their houses the roofs of wintry climates and one might still see in older Los Angeles obsolete homes whose slanting shingles were excellently arranged to let the snow slide off since there was no snow to slide they served as furnaces for the hot Sun next came the low roof with the wide flat eaves casting a heavy shade about the windows but this made the houses chilly and the new school brought the tiles just to the brim of the walls and these walls were not often glaring white as before but brown dove gray salmon shrimp olive where the shadows lay along the lawns or the walks they were of unusual design not dappling zuv rounded leaves as in the Midwest but the long scissored slashes of palm fronds the thready Reed's of papyrus the peppers delicate flounces even in this Eden however there was distress anxiety the hard times that were freezing the outer world were threatening the raging prosperity of Los Angeles studios were closing overnight supposed millionaires were departing abruptly in search of funds to meet their payrolls stars who had been collecting $10,000 a week or less were left stranded in the midst of unfinished pictures and unfinished mortgages and jewelry bills the lesser fry were being cast ashore in heaps like minnows after a tidal waves recession the girls at leiva's were wondering how long their jobs would last a mere cut in salary would be a welcome see a respite from a death sentence this was devastating news to mem for she had landed on this tropical isle in the expectation of at least a breadfruit tree her blanched face told her story to leva who held out more Hope than Chien Li entertained never-say-die mrs. Woodville she said there's always a chance the companies are turning off their oldest most experienced people in droves but every now and then they take in a newcomer I'll speak to the laboratory chief anyway your board and lodging won't cost you anything as long as we've got either here a girl's the girls agreed their adventurous spirit included a reckless hospitality and they put off care till tomorrow in the hope that it would never come after the dinner the Victrola was set worrying again and Men was invited to forget her troubles in a Foxtrot she gasped at this she had never learned even a lamb trot her father's church did not permit dancing and while it overlooked the sin in certain of its parishioners there would have been scandal indeed if the Parsons daughter had ever lifted her foot in ah save solemnity but mem was not allowed to explain she was dragged from her chair and forced to copy the steps set before her it would have been impossible priggish and insulting for her to plead religious scruples and she put her best foot foremost the danced mood was innate and she had a natural grace of rhythm that had languished unheeded the steps were simple and their combination at the whim of the dancer who led mem was soon whirling about the room with more or less awkwardness which only made for laughter and with the swimming intoxication that left her panting and dizzy but strangely foolishly happy she had learned a new alphabet of expression she misspelled the words and jumbled the syntax but she was getting along somehow on a new planet when three or four men drove up in a car and invaded the house with invitations to a dance at the Hollywood Hotel mem declined of course her refusal was ignored as of no importance it's Thursday night said Liva and it's our religious duty to show up at the Hollywood everybody's there you might meet somebody who'd give you a job men beg to be excused she could not dance and she was very tired that's when you're at your best cry leva who was an entirely other woman from the shrouded Arabian that mem had met at Palm Springs while men protested leave emotion one of the men a young actor to make her dance in spite of her struggles she was snatched from her chair into the arms of this faun whose manly beauty was his stock in trade it was the first time any man except her father and her brothers had embraced men since L would Farnham II had thrilled her with his love she did not count the brief duel with Tom hold me in Palm Canyon since he had made no effort to overwhelm her resistance but this laughing satyr mr. Creighton held her tight and compelled her to dance giddy with the world and sullen with the outrage MEMS anger blazed into open disgust Creighton said he was horribly sorry and only meant it in fun and by his abject contrition made memy shamed of herself she did not know what to do or say this was her first experience of the confusion that comes from being too respectable on a holiday to escape from the scene of her killjoy boorishness as it looked to her now she went out into the moonlit patio the moon seemed to make life simpler it has a way of blotting the material details with dumb shadow and spreading a love light over dreamy surfaces from a house somewhere near and drowned in foliage came a music of guitar and ukulele and young voices an automobile went by trailing laughter in a glittering scarf over her head a palm tree waved an aromatic fan as over a daughter of Pharaoh along the northern sky the mountains were aligned built of some soft tinted cloudiness as if they were a wall decreed between this an Adu of all delights and the harsh respectable realms of the east a barrier between the woeful lands of shag bark and mock orange in this garden of almond trees and roses inner radiance so amorous that it seemed almost to ku mem felt that the great needs of her soul were loved tender rapture this yearning was divine in this light in the bright lexicon of the moon there was no such word as don't everything would everything in MEMS downcast eyes her bosom was silvered with the glamour and gathered into the same thought that mused upon wall and flower and tree upon the deeps of the sky and upon the nearest vine leaf a quake with the ecstasy of being alive at night the era was imbued with a luscious fragrance that delighted her nostrils and drew her eyes to an orange tree almost a perfect globe and symmetry and curiously forming a little universe whose support was lost in the gloom beneath in the round night of its own sky hung moons exhaling perfume and temptation like another Eve she yielded to the cosmic urge and put her hand forth to the tree of knowledge pluck the fruit that was not hers and made it hers she did not peel the cloth of gold and divide the pulp but as she has seen these Californians do buried her teeth in the ready flesh tore out a hole and drained the syrup she was too well schooled in biblical lore not to think of Eve there was however no Adam for her to involve in her fall so she took the whole fruit for herself but then instead of feeling shame as the scales fell from her eyes shame itself fell from her and she laughed Eve had become Lilith for the moment she felt in her heart that there was something wrong here in this new life but then there had been so much wrong in the life she had led before this was a city of peril but she had not escaped peril at home she breathed deep of the new freedom she cast off her past resolved to bend her head and her back no longer under remorse but to stand erect to run and dance and to be beautiful and rich and famous like Eve she felt that the first necessity of her new era was clothes if she had had any she would have called the taxi cab and dashed away to the Hollywood hotel she felt that she could dance with anybody or with nobody she could be solemn a and danced herself into half a kingdom dance everybody's head off including her own but it has been so arranged that whenever a woman is set on fire with a high resolution to do some glorious thing an elbow demon always brings her back to the dust by whispering you have nothing fit to wear otherwise the conquest of the world would not have been left to blundering hesitant males men went into the house the moon was all very well for beautiful moods but it was impracticable it did not provide the Wardrobe for the deeds that inspire she went into the house like a prisoner granted a little exercise in a walled yard then driven back to her cell she was awake in her perplexities when Lima and her friends came home the young men raided the icebox then went their way Leyva was so drowsy that she can hardly get her hair down but she sat on the edge of memfs bed and discussed the future Liva advised new duds by all means and offered to have them charged to her own account until mem could find a job and begin to pay it was harrowing to men to think that she must take on a burden of large debt before she could hope for small wages but the need was imperative the next morning mem acquired on tick the brief true sell of a little business bride then she went to the studio with leva and was assigned without delay to the laboratory projection room at $25 a week a hundred pretty actresses got no jobs at all for they were seeking glory and wealth the size of the studio astounded men it was a vast factory this company's assets were 13 million dollars it's last year's gross income 8 millions in a score of years a toy unknown before had become the fifth largest industry in the world a mammoth target for every sort of critic and now mem had entered the machine shop if not the art end of chapter 25 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 26 of souls for sale this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter 26 all day she sat in a dark room and ran a little projecting machine that poured forth moving pictures before her on a little private screen she must watch out for typographical errors a to to4 a to t oo a slip of grammar a mistake in an actor's or a character's name her common school education was good enough for this though it was by no means so marvelous as Liva had told her employers it was later mem was permitted to study the films for blemishes scratches dust specks bad printing bad tinting bad assembly bad anyone of a score of things there were five other young women besides Liva engaged at the same task each with her little projection machine and her little screen and her little picture racing ahead of her past the continual night of the laboratory at one end of the projection room was a larger screen for the laboratory chief alerted scientist and his assistants and occasional directors who came with problems of photography requiring immediate solution the conversation was in a foreign language to ma'am but the jargon grew gradually familiar and she kept an eager ear alert for information she decided to master the trade in every detail it was fascinating at first a strange and fairy business like a chorus of girls at spinning wheels these maids sat and unrolled from the magic distaff romance unending and of infinite variety mem was supposed to keep her mind on her own screen but it was impossible not to glance at the other pictures now there was a glittering flood of waters roaring almost audibly through a canyon and in them a spun and tormented canoe that finally flung into the waves a fugitive woman and cast her on the rocks someone told her that so great an actress as Mary Alden had spent 30 minutes in those icy waters while they photographed the scene this went by again in different takes by different cameras as if Miss Alden had been killed and brought to life again repeatedly to respond to encores of death over against this tremendous rush of nature there appeared suddenly a yet more thrilling cataract of human passions a battle in a Chinese den were frenzied criminals Chinese and half-castes and policemen struck and stabbed and shot and broke over one another's heads furniture of exquisite carving or hurdled from ornate balconies and splintered embroidered screens and jeweled idols lon chaney leered and bled and let demoniac thoughts flicker acrost his mask parallel with this float a torrent of luxury a reception in a home of wealth designed by Cedric Gibbons lover of arches and interlaced perspectives beautiful women and gleaming dresses danced or listened to love stories or let tears drip like diamonds upon their fans of white peacock feathers a vast mountain range shouldered the clouds aside and a posse of vigilantes chased a pack of desperados on desperate horses or Desperados chased Tom Mix as a fugitive hero who sent his Bronco leaping sliding galloping down cliffs and up ravines a swallow darting away from falcons in a close-up of huge detail will rogers whimsical face twisted with cowboy impudence and embarrassment and pathetic wit in another the cinematic graphic features of howleen Chadwick exploited her subtlest moods in a language that could not be misunderstood or clawed killing waters Jovian brows struggled with big emotions or Richard Dix's stalwart humour flourished he was whisked away and a low comedian took his place with high antics of most ancient glory the horseplay that the new critics have always denounced and the classics have always adored the knockabout assaults on dignity the physical satires on pomposity that delighted Scalise no less than Aristophanes Cervantes Shakespeare Goethe all the big men who were not afraid of fun and understood that there is less wisdom in a stress than in a caper then the sensitive beauty of choline more rolled by tremulous to every least emotion as an aspen leaf before all these windows mem looked into countless phases of life and emotion and character it occurred to her that she was getting a divine per view of the world life to her look much what life must look like to God he must see billions of souls unrolling their continuities before him in all varieties of grimace frenzy collapse appeal for pity or laughter humanity must dance before him as before her until each life was cut off or vanished in its final fade-out she wondered more and more why the moving pictures should have been greeted with hostility and contempt or fear she did not understand that they who teach the world a new language or open a new world or bring golden gifts of any sort to the people are always crucified at first by the Pharisees later their converts become Pharisees for new messiahs she was ignorant of the primeval eternal habit of the critic mine to lash out at all that is alive and eager why lashed the dead they cannot feel the sting of the whip she knew only that the moving pictures were abhorrent to multitudes and it seemed to her pitiful that this should be so all these actors and actresses and photographers were merely trying to illuminate life to past all hours away to quicken the spirits of the lonely and the weary the artistic beauties of the pictures made her in articulately happy she knew nothing of painting or sculpture or architecture she loved sunsets and moon Dawn's and light on leaves and the textures of fabrics embracing shadows in their folds she loved the war of gloom and glow she found the pictures overwhelmingly beautiful to her eyes kaleidoscopes of leaping masses and lines symphonic tempest s' of shape and color for a time mem was in a heaven of tumultuous ecstasy's but gradually the delight turned to torture the torture of envy she was young and she had been told that she was beautiful she had realized was shame and anger and disgust at first that she sees the I in charmed it now as in almost every other way she was so revolutionized that what had hitherto seemed to her odious was beginning to seem admirable what had been her evil was her good and her good her evil if God made her pretty it was because he delighted in beauty and wanted it known he did not grow flowers and cellars he was not afraid to squander the sunshine if the art of mimicry was a god-given gift it must be meant for use she had acted once before a camera there in the desert she had felt the possession of an alien agony she had shot tears from her eyelids she had brought tears to the eyes of strangers she had tasted the sweet poison of vicarious suffering it was accounted divine on a cross wide diabolic on a screen she was an actress by divine intention she sat in a dark room and watched other people's pictures flow by it seemed wrong wicked cruel yet she was educating herself unconsciously in the complex techniques of acting learning dramatic analysis and synthesis fools who knew nothing about acting spoke of it as if it had no intellectual element they thought that the common enough ability to write impudence korilla tease about the brainless 'no sub actors was a proof of brains mem came to see how difficult to science Hubble will during an art the mimetic career requires she would learn the anguishes of self control and self compulsion that must be undergone when the actor's soul squeezes itself into the mould of another character she could already see how many ways there were of thinking holding hands of looking love or hate of kissing crying laughing rising up and sitting down she was mad to act end of chapter 26 recording by Diana Beauvais chapter 27 of souls for sale this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter 27 among the processions of types that march past MEMS eyes as she sat at her magic window in the projection room among the innumerable American types good and bad rich poor foreign native rural-urban the aliens of every clime and age and costume the animals and the birds the plunging horses of the Cowboys the lions the wolves the rattlesnakes went many children in rags and tags and velvet gowns she saw Booth Tarkington Edgar family and the other tiny artists of the colony exquisite Lucille Ricksen the essence of boyhood Johnny Jones the plump buddy messenger the adorable Robert Deville bus she saw at the movie houses the little master of comedy Wesley Barry with his skin a constellation of freckles and the all-conquering jackie coogan on the lot she saw the children and they were always happy the mothers were with the little ones going to work was going to play they lived an eternal fairy story they did not have to wait till bedtime to coax a worn-out fable from a jaded parent they went through great adventures in magic built castles they had an infinite number of new toys and new games and greatest bliss of all they had importance mem was told that five year old jackie coogan had made his mother a present of a big touring-car costing seven thousand dollars that he had a salary of seventeen hundred and fifty dollars a week she thought of little Terry dak in his secondhand express wagon helping his mother to pack her bundled wash home to bitter toil he had a dismal life on the deserts edge illumined only by his own unconquered well fancy in his dramatic gifts his was the home life of Malta toons of American children he had far more of mother's love than most of them yet the stage child and the movie child were spoken of with pity mem decided that it was well worth the child's while to accept such pity as a rebate on the fat blessings of such a life she wrote Terry's mother urged her to come to Los Angeles without delay to beg borrow or steal the necessary funds to seize the chance to rescue the divine child from poverty and Oblivion and to earn luxury by giving the world the sunshine of his irresistible charm she had not meant to let anyone in Palm Springs know where she was but she took the risk of embarrassment rather than risk the boy's future her motherhood had transplanted itself to that other child and his welfare was vital to her as a final inducement she promised to introduce Terry to the management of her own studio she permitted the impression that she was a rather important person on the staff and the day after she mailed the letter she lost her job the tide of hard times had engulfed the studio where she was engaged all but two or three companies were laid off the laboratory force was reduced to a skeleton she went home one night and did not come back and now the dark room that had come to be a prison cell was as dear a home as the shut cage of a canary that cannot get in again she was homesick for the many windowed gloom for the black wet chambers with the big vats of soup where the endless tapes of my new pictures were developed the lurid red rooms were the printing machines chattered the drawing rooms were the vast mill wheels revolved with their cascades of film the gates of the law were closed against her as the gates of Eden against Eve there was no pleasure in lying a bed of morning's there was no comfort in omitting the Stampede to beat the time clock the pay day came around no more either she had debts to absolve for clothes no longer fresh she had tomorrow's and next week's hunger to dread the girls at her house were equally idle in their house fatality lost his warmth for lack of fuel they tried to make the best of idleness they were the records to shreds and danced together all day long to pass the time away young men who had no money to spend on excursions came to the house of evenings and helped to dance away the tedium it became a common place for men to jig about in young men's arms she learned to dance she learned to play a little golf a little tennis she even gained a bit of familiarity with the saddle at the home of an actress who owned horses and had built a riding ring on her estate when she was flush and was glad now to have her friends exercise themselves and her stable men went also on her first beach picnic if she did not learn to swim she learned at least to add the paganism of the ocean to the paganism of the canyons the deserts and the poem blown planes the Pacific Coast civilization surpassed all the other coasts in its return to the pre fig leaf days on the leagues of sand variously named Coronado La Jolla Laguna Redondo Hermosa Santa Monica there was as much carefree clothes free gaiety as in the marquessa and Tahitian realms that Fredrik all Brian found or made so Elysian with his fragrant pen the first day of MEMS visit to the shore was terrifying as the automobile in which she rode threaded the long and narrow lane of Venice a woman darted across the path dragging a child by the arm men thought at first that the mother must be fleeing from a fire that has surprised her in her tub and that in her confusion she had put on her husband's undershirt and nothing else but hundreds of others were seen hurrying from that same fire in much the same costume the girl she was with parked the car in a little blind alley ending at the walk along the sand mem had come at last to where the mountains meet the sea the blinding blue desert of the Pacific almost as calm as the sky it met and welded with the twin blues overwhelmed men from with bass titude then she caught sight of the margin where the waves broke lazily in long corkscrewing lines of green fringed with white froth among the billows and in front of them swarming human midges leapt swam ran walked squatted burrowed flirted lunched nursed babies slept the sand was a bloom with umbrellas a monstrous poppy field along the endless walk miles on miles of little shops were aligned with peers thrusting out into the ocean bridges that led nowhere and were loaded down with pleasure shops giant wheels insane railroads that made a sport of seasick terrors every ingenuity for making happy fools of the mob bent on unbending as far as the eye could see along the vast skies blade of sure thousands seemed also lightly garbed that if mem had met any one of them in Calvary she would have fainted her fled she was stunned but the enormity of the multitude gave the exposure an impersonal aspect it was like looking into a can of fishing worms wriggling unclothed in anything but a light nuptial band of color as she stood been numbed leave a nudged her and said hurry up we mustn't miss a minute am I expected to go in there like that of course not me not today no thank you she could not be persuaded she hardly consented to sin on the sand and wait while she waited her eyes were whipped with such sights that she was anesthetized by shock fat mother's fat fathers scrawny matrons and skeleton ik elders paraded among infants and boys and girls in all stages of growth and none of them was decently clothed according to any standard ma'am new here and there Apollo sand aphrodite's moved imperfection of design and rhythm their beauty and their grace appallingly revealed ma'am bent her head averted her eyes felt sick at the stomach but the coercion of the throng was more potent than any other influence she began to think herself a ninny to be the only one out of step with this army she compelled herself to look without flinching and she hoped without curiosity by and by the sanity the beauty the higher morality of it began to convert her from the immemorial folly of making a virtue out of a physical hypocrisy the world had come a long distance from the period when a law was passed in Virginia in 1824 making it a misdemeanor to take a bath in private except upon the advice of physicians which advice was usually against such a dangerous practice the world had come a long distance from the ideal of wearing one's grave clothes and one's grave expression while still walking about the earth there were still loud hollers and sincere pleaders against the infamy of letting other people see ones epidermis against letting mankind know that womankind was biped but the dear old ladies and gentlemen with their brooms could not sweep back this oceanic tide here and there they arrested or mob some woman or man who took off an inch or two too much of the mysteriously permitted ever-varying minimum but millions bathed in public and sought the Fountain of Youth not in dark forests but on the Sun gilt ground where sea and land debated boundaries by the time Liva and her company came leaping out to join the rebel ma'am was a little better seeing her friends whose good sweet soul she loved was a fresh shock but she survived it and envied them their ability to fling off their solemnities with their other garments before the afternoon had slipped into Twilight she was able to laugh when she saw them playing ball with sunburnt young men of their acquaintance when they gathered about her and sat in the crisscross of brown and white legs she had to reconcile herself to South Sea standards the sky was too bright to stare out all the time they ate peanuts and popcorn an introduced er to that wonderful meal composed of a roll split open like a clam and stuffed with cleft sausage dill pickle lettuce and mustard a vind so irresistible good then Atlanta Grace – shameless named hotdog a few days later mem might have been seen in a bathing suit of popular brevity substituting a general coat of tan for the 40 blush power she had abandoned she was not sure whether to call herself a lost or a newfound soul but she was sure that she was an utter changeling from the remorseful girl who stole shame fast out of Calvary to hide herself from human eyes she was already publishing her bodily graces to the world and she was devoured with ambition to give her soul also entire to the millions she wanted to add a to denies her soul upon a film as public and as huge as the sky and compel mankind to watch it and admire them in a way was an allegory of all recent womanhood she had dwelt in puritanical respectability as in a kind of mental harem with the ash mock on her demure mind and a shapeless black robe of modesty over her bundle 'some clothes her thoughts had been her father's to direct until he should guide them into a husband's fold something had gone wrong her thoughts had contained black sheep that strayed and fell into the dark ravines but now she was out of it all joining the vast Ajara of humanity from the dark ages of ritual and ceremonial and uniform into the new era of all things good in their place and concealment of the truth the one irretrievable evil her soul and her body were her own now no they had gone beyond even that her soul and body were the public's beauty was community property she was committed to their fullest development into such a joyous acrobatic agility and power that they should give joy and a delightful sorrow to the public for which the Grateful public would pay with gratitude and fame and much money end of chapter 27 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 28 of souls for sale this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter xxviii in swimming dancing mountain climbing horseback climbing motoring singing laughing days and nights reeled by but gaiety as an ether against the pangs of idleness was a heavy and almost nauseous drug she looked back on her earlier existence at home as a slothful indolence at best a waste of gifts a burying of genius and a napkin in the napkin in the ground where it must rot yet never lift a flower from its corruption to be busy to achieve to build her soul and sell it that was her new passion she gave up all thought of going home to calve early she would never be content with village life again one day she'll ordered through West Lake Park and watched the visitors feed the wild fowl that grow tame there the manor child who had bread crumbs for largesse was almost mobbed overhead the chuckling seagulls made a living umbrella careening and dipping to hook the morsels tossed in air from every quarter birds of various pinion gathered swerved darted flung backward on wings that were both breakin motor about the feet others scampered her stalked pecking gobbling on the nearer ripples ducks terns and geese move like little fairy boats coots scooted and swans black and white thrust up their periscopes from the Reedy banks where they moored men looked about until she grew too weary to stand her despondent soul drifted as lazily as the Swans and felt almost as willing to beg for bread she sat down on a bench on the seventh Street side and by-and-by was hailed by a sturdy in western voice well as I live and breathe if it ain't miss Steadman why how do you do mrs. Sturgess it was a mid age woman who had been a member of her father's church and had gone west mem had now to say come West because of her husband's lungs MEMS first impulse was to welcome anyone from home her second was to fear anyone from home but mrs. Sturgess was already squeezing her broad person into the remaining space on the bench her life in this Babylon had not changed her small-town soul body or prejudices MEMS wit scurried in vain to bring up protecting lies mrs. Sturges was too full of her own opinions and adventures to ask any embarrassing questions beyond a hasty takeoff for her own biography and how's your father and your mother and your whole family oh well I hope and so you're here oh well well well as I was saying yesterday everybody on earth gets to Los Angeles sooner or later it's a nice city too full of good honest plain of course those awful moving picture people have given the town uh but there's plenty of real nice folksy folks here and the town growing faster than well as I was telling my husband last week it takes all kinds to make a world and the Lord may have had some idea of his own when he made movies of course I enjoy seeing them you just can't help enjoying the terrible but the people that make them well such stories as they do tell about their why that Hollywood is just a plague spot on the earth the gentleman we used to rent from we own our own home now or will soon when a few more installments are and the prices here my dear oh dear but he said that friends of his who had rented their homes to movie people why would you believe it some of those Cowboys one day on the ranch next day earning $1000 and buying jewelry on credit wristwatches with split diamonds for crystals and they rent a nice house and ride a horse in the dining room and shoot the China right off the it's a fact and some the women little pink ninnies that don't know enough to come in when it they get fortunes for just making eyes at the camera and they rent nice respectable homes and hold well geez is the only word orgies is just what they are it's a sin and a shame and if something isn't done about it why young girls flock there in droves and sell their souls and bodies for it's simply terrible a gentleman who claims to know was telling husband and he told me that there isn't one decent woman on the screen not one would you believe it every one of them has to pay the price to get there at all he says to my husband that it's the regular thing before a girl is engaged she has to those directors why any pretty girl who is willing to lose her immortal soul can get a chance if she'll only and if she won't they turn her away I declare it makes my blood run cold just to don't eat yours I don't believe it said ma'am she had heard a vast amount of gossip but she had not heard of anybody paying such an initiation fee she had seen a great deal of joy and some of it reckless but with a childish recklessness she had seen no vice at all mrs. Sturgess flared up there is nothing one defense more zealously than one's pet horrors don't believe it well that's only because you're so innocent yourself speaks well for you bringing up so strict at all you naturally wouldn't believe folks could be so depraved but if you've heard what I've why it's true as gospel my husband had it from a man who knows where off he speaks they sell their souls for bread and as the Bible says their feet lay hold on well you know any girl that's too honest to pay the price don't get engaged that's all she just don't get engaged of course there may be some decent ones old ladies that play homely parts and but if a young girl wants to succeed in that business she's just got to oh dear that's my car there's not another one for hafen they run out to our place only every good hi I hope to see you again soon wait hey hey and she was gone into the infinite / lose of Los Angeles she caught her car and it slid off going banging and Bunton a passing automobile out of the way with much crumpling of the fender and the vocabulary of the driver but no fatality which was unusual mem did not regret the abrupt departure of mrs. Sturgess she was glad of the woman's breathless virility it had not only left her with her secrets intact but it had given her a hint mrs. Sturgess had substituted faith for facts and it spoken with that earnestness which is more convincing than evidence mam accused herself a blindness instead of charging mrs. Sturgess with scandal she felt that the alleged wickedness had escaped her notice because she was too stupid to recognize it but mrs. sturgess's accusations had the same perverse effects as her father's jeremiah adds his sermon had made her long to see los angeles mrs. Sturgess had suggested an answer to her own riddle she wanted to act she was determined to act she needed money she must have money it had never occurred to her that a pretty woman is merchandise she'd given herself away once and now she found that there was a market ready and waiting with cash and opportunity as the price she had wears for this market she could barter them for fame and future since she could she would she sat on the bench and noted with a new interest that some of the men who passed her and stared at her had question marks in their eyes up to now she had shuddered at the vague posing of this eternal interrogation she had not taken it as a tribute of praise or as an appeal for mercy but as a degrading insult now she thought of it as a kind of sly appraisal a system of silent bidding auctioneering without words the never closed stock market of romance and intrigue these men who swept their eyes across MEMS face and tacitly murmured well had nothing to offer but a little sin or a little coin she had no notion of the rates she wanted none of their caresses or their dark purposes she wanted the light of glory opportunity so much fame for so much shame she grew grim as she meditated the price was only a vague phrase but she was ready to pay it whatever it was but to whom she brooded a long while before she thought of a shop to visit she smiled sardonically as she remembered the woman's exchange at home where women sold what they made painted China hammered brass NIT Goods cakes and candies well she would sell what God had made of her for what man might make of her at the studio she had met the casting director one day when the commissary was crowded with stars in their painted faces and gaudy robes and with extra people portraying Turks Japanese farmers ranchers ballet dancers society women Mexicans he had been introduced to her as mr. Arthur Terry when he asked if he might take the vacant seat at the table where she sat with Liva and another girl he was an amiable and laughing person with an inoffensive gift of flattery when he learned that all the girls worked in the laboratory projection room he had exclaimed why waste yourselves in that coal cellar I'll put you all in the next picture the others had not taken him seriously indeed they had no ambition to be photographed mem had often wondered at the numbers of pretty women she knew who had no desire to have their pictures published it balanced somewhat the hoard of unpretty women who had a passion for the camera after the lunch she had learned who mr. Terry was and what the duties were of a casting director it was he who said this one or that one here is a part play it and the company will give you so much a week he was the st. Peter of the movie heaven empowered to admit or to deny he was the man for her to seek he had seemed a decent enough man and he had looked at men without insolence but you could never tell mrs. had it on the best authority that the only way to success in the movies was the easiest way mem took a streetcar home she was glad to find the house empty Liva and the others were out on a canyon hike dressed in high boots and riding breeches and braving the perils of rattlesnakes as well as the frightful men who lurked in the thickets or who sprang out of motors and kidnapped women every now and then men pondered the costume appropriate to her new errand she was going to lure Lucifer and she was afraid that he would be too sophisticated for her but her problem was solved for her by its simplicity she had only one very pretty gown so she put that on she studied herself a long while in the mirror since her eyes and her smile must be her chief wardrobe her siren equipment she practiced such expressions as she's supposed to represent invitation they were silly and they made her rather ill the face in her glass was so ashen and so miserable that she borrowed some of leiva's warmest face powder and smeared her mouth crudely with the red lipstick it was a long journey to the studio with three transfers of streetcar she reached the law late in the afternoon just before the companies were dismissed and the department forces released the gatekeepers knew her smiled at her and let her in she went to the casting directors office and found him idly swapping stories with his assistant he spoke to her courteously and when she asked if she might see him a moment he motioned her into his office gave her a chair closed the door and took his own place behind his desk the telephone rang he called into it sorry miss wait that part has been filled the company couldn't make your salary I begged you to take the cut but you wouldn't times are hard and you'd better listen to reason you'd have had four weeks of good money and now you'll walk take my advice next time old dear and don't haggle over salary alright sorry goodbye he turned to ma'am and started to speak the telephone jingled he had a parley with the director who could see a certain actor who mr. Terry was urging as the ideal for the type they debated the man as if he had been a racehorse or a trained animal Terry spoke of him as a gentleman who could wear clothes and look the part he had been miscast in his last picture he was willing to take 300 a week off his salary because his wife was in the hospital and one of his daughters was going away to boarding school another telephone call an agent evidently for Terry said we took a test of miss Glover she's terrible her mouth is repulsive her teeth ought to be straightened her eyes are of the blue that photographs like dishwater we can't use her don't tell her that of course tell her were not certain about the picture we may not do it for months give the poor thing a good story this was a discouraging background from em siren scenario but she was determined to carry out her theory mr. Terry's eyes looked her way now and then as he listened to what was coming in through the wire when he looked away mmm in all self-loathing adjusted herself in her big chair to what she imagined was a Cleopatra a sinuous 'ti she thought of her best lines secretly twitch tup her skirts and thrust her ankles well into view she turned upon mr. Terry her most languishing eyes and tried to pour enticement into them as in two bowls of fire she pursed her lips and set them full she widened her breasts with deep sighs Terry and seemed to recognize that she was deploying herself he grew a little uneasy before he finished the telephone talk his assistant came in to say that another of the directors had decided to call a big ballroom scene the next day and fifty ladies and gentlemen must be secured at once he wants real swells to the assistant said he says the last bunch of muggers queered the whole picture Terry groaned and said get busy on the other wire he took up his telephone again used it as a long antenna and felt through the city for various extra people he I several actors and actresses to lay aside their pride and take the real money rather than starve his patience his altruistic enthusiasm for the welfare of these invisible persons touched ma'am with admiration she could not see where or when this Samaritan could find time or inclination to play the satire he was a bit fagged when he finished his last charge upon the individuals and the agencies but he was as polite to ma'am as if she had been Robina teal what can I do for you I want a chance to act what's your line anything anything is nothing what experience have you had ma'am had not come here to offer her past but her future she was suddenly confronted with the fact that all actors must offer themselves for sale not the pretty women only but the old man too and the character women actors are much abused for talking of themselves few of them do when business is not involved but when it is they must discuss the goods they are trying to sell shoe merchant stock shoes railroad presidents railroads politicians politics clergymen salvation each salesman must recommend his own stock and talk it up so ma'am had to grope for experience and dress her window with it and she had had so little she lied a little as one does who tries to sell anything I was with the company that Tom Hobie and Robina teal played in I took the part of an Arabian woman mr. Folger the director are praised my work well he knows said Terry but he's not with us you know have we your name and address and a photograph outside in our files no well if you'll give them to mr. Dobbs with your height weight color of eyes and hair and experience we'll let you know when anything occurs everything's full just now and we're doing almost nothing you know he was already implying that the interview was ended she broke out Seles Lee but I've got to have the chance I'll do anything she pleaded he looks sad but rose and shook his head I'm sorry my dear I can't give you jobs when there aren't any now can I I'll introduce you to mr. Dobbs and he he moved toward the door to escape from the cruelty of his office but a frenzy moved her to seize his arm in a fierce clutch she tried to play the vampire as she had seen the part enacted on the screen by various slit Ito's she drew her victim close to her pressed tight against him and poured upward into his eyes all the venom of an amorous basilisk I'll pay the price I know what it costs to succeed and I'm willing to pay I'll do anything you say be anything to you you can't refuse me she could hardly believe her own ears hearing her own voice though her pride in the acting she was doing lifted her from the disgust for the role he looked at her without surprise without horror without even amusement but also without a hint of surrender his only mood was one of jaded pity you poor child who's been filling your head with that stuff are you really trying to ban me the crass word angered her I'm trying to force my way to my career and I don't care what it costs Terri's sarcastic smile faded sit down a minute and listen to me a little common sense ought to have told you that what you've been told is all rot but suppose it wasn't suppose I were willing to give a job to every pretty girl who came in here and tried to bribe me with love do you know how many women I see a day a hundred and fifty on some days that's nearly a thousand a week I happen to have a wife and a couple of kids and I like them pretty well at that but suppose I were King Solomon and Brigham Young and the Sultan of Turkey all in one a hundred and fifty a day really you know you flatter me I won't ask you how I could do any office work or how long my health would last but how long do you suppose my job would last if I gave positions in return for favours and if you won me over you'd still have to please the director and the managers and the author and the public how long would our company keep going if we selected our actresses according to their immorality it's none of my business what your character is off the lot except that your character will photograph and a girl can't last long who plays Pollyanna on the screen and polygamy outside just suppose I gave you a job for the price you want to pay and collected my commission and then the director refused to accept you or fired you after the first day's test what guarantee could I give you that you could hold the job once I recommended you for it and what would the rest of the women on the lot and off it do if such a business system we're installed here what would the police do to us there's a lot of bad gals in this business and there's a lot in every other business and in no business but put this down in your little book my dear there's just one way to succeed on the screen and that is to deliver the goods to the public the danger you'll run in this business is after you get your job the men you'll associate with are mostly mighty nice fellows magnetic handsome good sports hard workers otherwise the public wouldn't look at them well you'll be associated with them very closely and you'll feel like a bad sport maybe sometimes if you try to be too cold and unapproachable when they're in a friendly mood but that's a danger you'll meet anywhere forget this'll rot about paying the price good lord if you could sit here and see the poor little idiots that come in here and try to decoy me I get it all day long your work was pretty poor my dear I congratulate you on being such a bad bad woman but I'm immune you'd have failed if you had been the Queen of Sheba now go on outside and tell mr. Dobbs your pedigree and we'll give you the first chance we get and no initiation fee or Commission will be charged how's that a little bit of all right a you're a nice child and pretty and you'll get along he lifted her from her chair and put his arm around her as a comrade and slapped her shoulder blades in an accolade of good friendship she broke under the strain and began to cry she dropped back into her chair and sobbed it was good to be punished and rebuked into common decency by the way of common sense teary watched her and felt his over-pumped heart surgeon sympathy he resolved to move her up to the head of the endless army of pretty girls pleading for opportunity the breadline of art when he had let her cry a while she began to laugh hysterically at first then with more wholesome self derision her eyes were so bright and her laughter so glad that they impressed a director who pressed his face against the screen door men had been so deeply absorbed in her plan that she had not observed the other door standing wide open save for its screen teary asked the director in as he opened the inner door from Em's exit but the director checked her with a gesture teary presented him as mr. rooks he had to ask mom's name she gave it from habit as mrs. Woodville mr. rooks said to teary I've got to let parent go she's no good at all no comedy no charm she's supposed to play a village cutie and she plays it like NASM Ava's Hedda Gabler this young lady looks the type she's very pretty nice and clean looking men was aghast at being so discussed yet it was thrilling to be considered she did not even note that the director had neglected to demand virtue as the prize it was almost more embarrassing to have him demand her experience her story improved with repetition oh I played a bit for mr. Folger he said I was wonderful was a comedy well not exactly it was character she was trying to talk like a professional would you mind giving me a test she was not quite sure what he meant but she was there to pay any price so she said I'd love to it's late said rooks I'm desperate come right over to the set before the electricians get away he hurried her through the screen door across the grass to one of the vast warehouses and they're under a bombardment of grizzly lights with a camera aimed at her point-blank and under the eye of various men in overalls he asked her to smile to turn her head slowly from side to side to wink to laugh aloud to flirt with an imaginary man to indicate jealous vexation at a rival rook's was fretful over the snarl this small roll was causing in his big picture the delays and shifts in had compelled had already added several thousand dollars to the expense account since the overhead and all totaled nearly three thousand dollars a day even with the recent cuts and salaries he assumed that mem knew the RET immense of her trade and could use the tools of it which were her muscles he gave her no help painted no scene did nothing to stimulate her imagination in the desert among the famine rung people in costume under the fiendish sky it had been easy to lift her eyes in prayer in to weep she found out all of a sudden how much harder it is to be natural in one's own clothes than to play a poetic role in costume how much harder it is to be funny than to be tragic she could not smile at command her lips drew back in a grin of pain her wink was leaden the camera caught what her face expressed and it expressed what she felt which was despair she had her chance and she was not ready for it she knew that if she had been droll and mischievous the directors face would have reflected it as mr. Folgers eyes had grown wet when she wept in the desert but mr. rooks was merely polite the cameraman was mirthless the props and grips stole away the test was short mr. rook said very nice ever so much obliged mr. teary will let you know how it comes out thank you again good night and now she must find her way out Terry was just driving away in his car as she sneaked through the gates feeling that her paradise was gone again she had so little hope that she did not mention the experience to liebe she had no ambition to promulgate her failures it was success that she wanted for once her gloomy forebodings were justified and ever after she trusted her gloomy forebodings often as they fooled her the next day passed with no summons from the studio but the mail brought her a letter from mrs. DAC it was written in such script as one might expect from a hand that clutched a cake of soap or a hot boiler handle or scrubbed clothes against a washboard all day six days a week it said dear mrs. Woodville I was awful glad to get your letter been meaning to answer it but trying to fix up my affairs so I in Terry could come up to your city yes day I was too mrs. Redax and she said she had a telegram for you but had no address and so could not forward it it said your mother was so worried not having had no answer to her letters she was coming out on the first train and would reach Palm Springs day after tomorrow hopping to see you soon either there or here mrs. P dak PS both I and Terry send you lots of love ma'am was petrified nothing could stop her mother from coming the first blaze of joy at the thought of the reunion was quenched in the flood of impossible situations her presence would create alone with her sky ash ambitions her contempt for village standards had been sublime but that was in the absence of the village it made an amazing difference in the look of her new ideals and practices that they must be submitted to a mother's eyes her mother did not know los angeles but then mem did not know her mother daughters have not all been mothers but all mothers have been daughters MEMS courage turned Craven before the wilderness of her problems unemployment poverty ambition pterodactyl and her mother to educate end of chapter 28 recording by Deanna Beauvais chapter 29 of Sol's for sale this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit Souls for sale by Rupert Hughes chapter 29 remember Steadman was not exactly a runaway she was a walk away she was not included in the pitiful Beedrill of the 65,000 girls who vanished from American homes that year and caused a vast father though girls have been running away from home since girls and homes were they have followed the cavemen the barbarian invaders the Allied troops the caravans the Argos ease they filled the premi Vil factories and the places of merriment the Corinth and the Alexandria's some of them became slaves and some sultanas priestesses royal favorites Empress's Czarina's queens of song and art some starved some flourished mem felt that to go back would condemn her to ignominy and futility while to stay away promised a chance for wealth and glory she heard voices calling her saw spirit summoning her to the skies no less than Joan of Arc did and perhaps with no more insanity but now her mother had found her out and was pursuing her her mother would be as grave a problem to her as she to her mother the fall from the cliff that did not quite free mem soul from her body had quite freed the little parasites soul that was to have been her conspicuous fartole to bear through life but the tiny leech had began to drink her blood and in its death it tore open a wound that would never quite heal her soul had bled and she had been stricken with awe before the two miracles that fastened a life upon hers and then rested it from her before it was quite alive the letter she had written her mother then had been the instinctive cry of a child beset in the dark by some enormous presence passing overhead just as instinctive was the compulsion that drew her mother to her across the continent old mrs. Steadman had raised a family and been habited to a mother slumber light and fitful and broken with frequent dashes to bed sides troubled by bad dreams or imagined burglars or mere thirst or a cough mrs. Steadman had always flung out of her own warm covers to run to the call if her hasty feet found both slippers or one or neither she hastened as she was she would not have paused for a wolf an Indian a murderer a fire or an earthquake mem was still her baby in the dark and it did not matter whether she laid needful and terrified in the next room or beyond the deserts or the seven seas the mother's one business was to get to her her telegram was her old night cry I'm coming honey don't worry Mama's coming to her baby she shot this cry across the continent and called member B although mem felt as old as night the Reverend dr. Steadman had wished that he might go along but his church tasks held him and he could not find the money for two fares the lies he had been told had succeeded to perfection MEMS efforts to hide herself and support herself in the wilderness he assumed to be her usual unselfish and characteristic unwillingness to be a bother to her father and mother dr. Steadman agreed with his wife that she must set out at once for Palm Springs he raised the necessary funds by lifting still more of his little savings from the bank and drawing papadum closer his only regret was that he had not more to sacrifice and now mrs. Denton was following MEMS train rattled with all the difference in the world ma'am a young and beautiful girl had had all her fate before her and a heart of growing audacity and reckless ambition mrs. Stedman an old and shabby parsonage had all her hope behind her and that not much and a heart full of inexperience and of timidity before everything except self-immolation when mem learned that her mother was already on the train she could devise no plan for turning her back somehow she had to be met and provided for every one of the women of MEMS Hollywood household was out of work she who had savings was lending them to her who had not one of the women in the bungalow gave up the fight and putting up her little car for security borrowed from leave a money enough to pay her fare home to the village and the scornful relative she had sworn never to return to except in triumph the servant had been released and the stranded women were cooking their own food such as it was it was this dire confrontation with bankruptcy that had goaded mem to her insane idea of pawning her virtue for an opportunity when the casting director had given her a sermon instead of a quid pro quo she had found herself object indeed even her shamelessness repulsed and her last trinket proved non-negotiable and now her mother in every deep a lower deep but lever responded her panic by an almost hysterical bravery she laughed l dig a little further down the sulk and added the tribal bravery cheer up the worst is yet to come with a few dollars from leiva's waning resources mem took the train to Palm Springs her one remaining hope being the confidence that when she returned she would find a letter from mr. Terry saying that she was engaged she reached Palm Springs in time to have a little talk with mrs. dak who was closing out her business and goodwill as a washerwoman and preparing to take her boy Terry to the golden city of Los Angeles this was a gamble indeed and mem was frightened by what she had said on foot she found nothing so terrifying as having her advice accepted she had not realized what an army of children was already quartered in Los Angeles by working all the time and never spending much mrs. Dec had accumulated a pittance that look like a fortune to her she would find that Los Angeles prices were not scaled to keep retired laundresses in luxury for an extended period but that was for the future she and her boy and men stood on the platform waiting for the up-train and when mrs. Steadman dropped off the steps mem put her right back on again she ran forward and persuaded the baggage men to carry mrs. deadens trunk on to Los Angeles it was only when the train was flying once more through the desert that she and her mother found a chance for real greetings and then they were restrained by the presence of other passengers at least mrs. Steadman was restrained mem was stimulated this simple familiar matter of a mother and daughter meaning again after a long parting revealed the gulf between them mem had crossed the Gulf she had dwelt in the blazing sunlight in a bright a gaudy bungalow with noisy friends the house was made to look well from the street the toil of all the inhabitants was toward publication the entertainment of the public MEMS new ambition was to parade her emotions before the world and stormed the world's emotions there was far far more in this than mere conceit or ostentation she wanted to help mankind by educating and exercising its moods as even the most ardent evangelist is not without anxiety for public attention for the meekest has his pride and his greed of notice from his God if not from his public so now mem felt that it would be a shame to let these strangers think she did not love her mother tremendously she devoured the little old woman with kisses and caresses and she did not keep her voice inaudible that was her new ideal of devotion she was advertising her love a little but no more than religious people flaunt their Creed's mrs. Stedman was no less aglow with joy in the recovery of her lost lamb and no less aware of the audience but she felt quelled by it and under an obligation not to disturb it by her personal emotion at home she lived in a dull old house as devoid of architectural fripperies as of graces the blinds were always down and the ideal of that house was that the neighbors and passers-by should never know of this existence good houses were seen and not heard she was troubled by MEMS voluble enthusiasm her warm clothes her careless rapture her demonstrative affections she did not Mar the festival by rebooting her child but she grew a little more quiet and reserved as if to give a hint or at least to lower the average mrs. Stebbins body had traveled thousands of miles but her soul had not budged she was just what ma'am had left in the village looking indeed a bit more village in her bonnet it's a penis than before but to the mother mem was altered almost beyond recognition her spiritual wardrobe had been enormous ly enlarged and the clothes upon her body were of another world Los Angeles has fashions of dress that are all her own many of the moving picture people are conspicuous anywhere by their sartorial differences even the wax figures in the shop windows of Los Angeles have a challenging spirit unlike any other wax works the dummies add to denies beckon and command attention by their uncanny vivacity where the indolent wax figures of shops of other cities are content to stand still like clothes racks and make no effort to sell their wares mem had acted a role in makeup before cameras she had learned to dance and swim and ride to compete with young men in athletics business repartee and flirtation her body was no longer a hateful shroud of the spirit but a finely articulated galloping steed for the soul to ride and put through paces she was so changed outside and in from coiffure to footgear that at first her own mother had not recognized her in the young actress who swept down upon her flung her back on the train and treated her as a fresh air wife later she realized with embarrassed admiration that this brilliant butterfly was what had come out of the done chrysalis that she had named remember she had loved the child but had never suspected her of being so capable of so many metamorphosis the swift journey from the mountains and through the desert into the orange gardens was repeated for her in the journey she made now with mom's soul the girl's first questions were eager demands for news from home but then her talk turned all to herself she was selling herself to her mother as she had tried to sell herself to the casting director mrs. Steadman had been prepared to find a scared and sickly child in a shack in Palm Springs she had come as a rescuing angel she found that her wings and halo were old-fashioned and her child doing better without her than ever she had done at home as mom's tongue out raced the train the dazed mother learned that her baby was now a fearless adventurer upon the paths of ambition that she was actually one of those appalling creatures known as an actress and a movie actress above all things a movie actress below all things mrs. Stebbins comments were simple gasps and reiterated well wells MEMS autobiography was hardly finished by the time Los Angeles was reached and now the abashed immigrant that mem had been when she faced the crowded streets and the taxi comments was as sophisticated as if she had been a native daughter of Los Angeles she sheltered her mother as if her mother were a Newcomb immigrant of immature mind they left mrs. Dec and Terry at the home of a cousin then sped on to the bungalow Liva who ran out to whisk mrs. Stedman into the shrimp pink residence found her calm and serene but it was the calm of chloroform she made no resistance to leave his disposition of her and her things she accepted the vacant room and made no Jameer at the decorations left by its late occupant snapshots of rollicking beach parties of horseback rides through canyons of Greek dancers of postal cards with queer photographs and queer jokes portraits of stars and others all in a high state of excitement during the train ride in MEMS chatter mrs. Steadman had been doing some earnest thinking in a little private brain room just back of the auditorium her husband had pledged her to write him frankly how their poor child was and how soon she would be strong enough to be brought back home mrs. Steadman had promptly realized that mem was far too strong to be brought back home at all she realized too that if she wrote her husband frankly just how men was and what she was up to dr. Steadman would probably fall down dead in his study or have an apoplexy in the pulpit when he stood up to scourge the sins of his congregation and felt his whip hand stayed by the fact that his own sheltered pet had gone wrong then any girl in town of recent memory mrs. Steadman did not want to commit murder she was not like that ancient monster of self-preservation who said that if all mankind stood on a balance to be dumped into hell unless he told the lie it was his duty to tell the truth mrs. Steadman was one of those Craven wretches who would have told a million lies to keep one poor soul from being dumped into hell she had never quite understood the extraordinary precedence the truth had usurped over love mercy courtesy and convenience she never lied in her own behalf or to save herself from blame she sometimes lied to shift blame to herself from her children she lied to the children about Santa Claus about how quickly bad children are punished and how inevitably good children are rewarded about how infallibly right their father was and such commonplace household perjuries she lied to her husband incessantly about how wise he was how eloquent she applied untruth generally as a kind of arnica a first aid panacea her only hesitance now concerned just what untrue that was safest and most satisfactory to tell him she was a wicked old woman and it was small wonder that she rapidly lapsed into enormous popularity among the lost souls of Hollywood fortunately her daughter left her alone for a while and she had time in her bedroom to work out an attractive lie she must say that mem was well that was a good solid fact to rest the springboard of fancy on she must explain that mem had left Palm Springs for Los Angeles why well because she had a chance to improve her position and her doctor had said that Palm Springs was too full of Palms or something a doctor's advice was the best bet because a doctor was the only human power that her husband recognized as superior to his own impulses next what was mem doing in Los Angeles to support herself she had written that she needed no more money from home it would be fatal to say that she had entered upon a cinematic career and it would be adding humiliation to infamy to admit that she had lost her job even in that infernal mrs. Steadman chewed the end of the pen holder into pulp before a light from someplace inspired her old increase mather in explaining how old witches did not always sink when thrown into the water observed that the devil can also work miracles and it must have been Beelzebub who upheld this old witch of a mrs. Stedman in the deep waters about her but the miracles of Hell like those of heaven confer only a temporary benefit dr. Stedman would accept her falsehoods without suspicion but woe unto her when he should learn the hideous truth for the moment however mrs. Stedman was inspired to write to her trusting husband as she found mem in very good health and engaged in nice light ladylike work in the public library at pretty good pay considering the cost of living also that she was boarding was some right nice ladies also in library work at the address given she closed with some remarks on the beauties of California Al and the Lord had been awful partial to as she finished this letter mrs. Steadman felt dizzy she wondered if her giddiness might be the first symptoms of whatever it was that carried off Saphira and her husband but remembering that Saphira had fallen down she decided to lie down first she fell asleep and did not know that leave al Amer peering in and seeing her there stretched out white haired and benign had looked upon her as a tired Saint and tiptoeing in had spread over her a Navajo blanket of barbaric red and black while her mother slept ma'am wept more freely and copiously than in all her life before end of chapter 29 recording by Deanna Beauvais

Michael Martin

1 Response

  1. Souls for Sale | Rupert Hughes | Published 1900 onward | Audiobook full unabridged | English | 4/8

    23: [00:00:00] – Chapter XXIII

    24: [00:07:56] – Chapter XXIV

    25: [00:21:31] – Chapter XXV

    26: [00:44:23] – Chapter XXVI

    27: [00:53:25] – Chapter XXVII

    28: [01:07:01] – Chapter XXVIII

    29: [01:35:53] – Chapter XXIX

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment